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Multicultural Education is an idea which has reached its time. Carrying the legacy of the 1960's and 1970's, a period of profound social change when the people of the United States were forced to reexamine their cultural heritage, multicultural education has emerged in the 1990's to address the educational needs of a society that continues to struggle with the realization that it is not monocultural, but is an amalgamation of many cultures.1 Multicultural education is a field of study and an emerging discipline whose major aim is to create equal educational opportunities for students from diverse racial, social- class, and cultural groups. Its goal is to help all students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function well in a democratic society. It helps students to interact and communicate with people from other groups. It facilitates the learners to understand and appreciate cultural similarities and differences from other races. races.2 The Philippines is a nation of different races, cultures, traditions, and religion. Of its one thousand one hundred seven islands, people within speak different dialects. There are those who speak Tagalog, Ilocano, Ibanag, Ilonggo, Chavacano, but, all are called Filipinos. Indeed, there is diversity in the Philippines in terms of its race, ethnicity, social – class, and cultural groups. Philip Philippin pinee educat education ion compri comprises ses student studentss from from differ different ent races. races. In an average average classr classroom oom with with fifty fifty studen students, ts, severa severall of which which came came from from the Tagalo Tagalog g region region,, the Ilocano region, and some from the Visayas and Mindanao regions. In this kind of class,
2 fusion of different races takes place. The rich diversity of today's society is clearly evident in many classrooms today. With the diverse group of students, each one is given the opportunity to examine their differences and similarities with other students, in terms of their culture and traditions. They are able to understand the beliefs and customs in other provinces. And, they are able to socialize with learners from varied races. Thus, multiculturalism exists within the Philippine education system. The union of diverse groups of learners in schools is evident of multiculturalism. It makes them to be socially active members of the society. It helps them gain greater understanding of their self by viewing themselves from the perspectives of other cu ltures. Multicultural education is a progressive approach for transforming education that holistically critiques and addresses current shortcomings, failings, and discriminatory practices in education. It is grounded in ideals of social justice, education equity, and a dedication to facilitating educational experiences in which all students reach their full potential as learners and as socially aware and active beings, locally, nationally, and globally. Multicultural education acknowledges that schools are essential to laying the foundation for the transformation of society and the elimination of oppression and injustice.3 It is said to value cultural pluralism. It affirms that major education institutions should strive to preserve and enhance cultural pluralism. One of its aims is not just to impart interesting facts, but also to equip students to the challenges and concepts from established disciplines. It highlights injustice of all
3 kinds - racial, gender, class, linguistic, ethnic, national, and environmental - in order to make explanations and propose solutions.4 Multicultural education is said to attempt to uncover "the histories and experiences of people who have been left out of the curriculum," The purpose of which is "to accommodate and respect the varied cultural origins of our diverse population" (Eaton, 1997).
The population of the Philippines has been multicultural. The culture of the Philippines reflects the complexity of the history of the Philippines through the blending of the culture of diverse indigenous civilizations with characteristics introduced via foreign influences. The Philippines is a mixed society, both singular and plural in form. Singular as one nation, but it is plural in that it is fragmented geographically and culturally. The nation is divided between Christians, Muslims, and other religio-ethnolinguistic groups; between urban and rural people; between upland and lowland people; and between the rich and the poor.5 Think of all the people from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and from different nations such as China, Europe, America who make up the population of our country. RACISM The Philippines has various ethnic groups that identify themselves based on several factors such as ancestry, language, or religion. In Mindanao, there are several ethnic groups of similar ancestry, but whose religion is Islam, and whose culture is not as
4 “Westernized” on the surface as that of the Christian Filipinos. There are also various tribal groups throughout the Philippine archipelago who are generally neither Muslim nor Christian, and are least influenced by Islamic or western cultures. The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in terms of ethnicity.6 However, though multiculturalism exists within the educational system, we cannot deny the fact that discrimination and racism still survives in our society. Often do we see people criticizing individuals especially from the minority/ indigenous groups. Still, the minorities are being classified as of lesser value than those who grew in the cities. The minority, such as the Aetas in Zambales, the indigenous Lumad, and the Bangsamoro Muslims are often deprived of their basic human rights, especially the right to education. With the experiences of our fellow Filipinos, most minorities are being left behind. They are seen as lower class citizens. When they enter schools, most of them are being bullied and mocked by the majority of the students; some of them have to put up with names being shouted at them. The indigenous people are also mocked when their beliefs and traditions do not conform with the majority, for they are regarded as those with a social or cultural identity distinct from the dominant or mainstream society. For example, the Igorot food “etag”, which foreigners call Igorot ham, is seen as disgusting by the people from the cities. And when they go to the cities, they are being looked upon as if they have some kind of disease. Most of the time, they are being oppressed by the people in power. When applying for a job, they are given the last priority. Employment opportunities are limited to them even if they are qualified for higher positions. They are seen as merely laborers in the society. 6
5 These experiences manifest the continuing non- enjoyment of the minorities of their basic rights such as education and development. According to Mucha-Shim Q. Arquiza (2004), “while Philippine constitution believes as a matter of principle that education is a fundamental right, government’s lucklustre performance to fulfill its obligations proves the opposite”. The minorities remain deprived and are socially marginalized. Their contributions are not recognized. Thus, their humanity is being degraded. This discriminatory attitude is perpetuated by the state’s insistence on a mainstreaming model which succeeds only in assimilating the minorities in a majority dominated culture. SOCIAL STATUS The gap between rich and poor in the Philippines is widening, with the richest 10 percent of families raking in more than a third of the country’s total income. Education has also become a part of the institutional mechanism that divides the rich and the poor. The rich tend to discriminate the less fortunate. Like the minority, they too, experienced being bullied in schools. Otherwise, they end up being the so called “assistants” of the high profiled students. Discrimination also follows when only the rich few are capable of enrolling and studying in well known exclusive schools. They are the only ones who could afford to pay the high tuition fees of these schools, and enjoy a better quality of education. And, studying in exclusive, high profile schools and universities includes the enjoyment of popularity within the society. However, the less fortunate students end up studying in schools where facilities are inadequate, and resource materials are limited. They usually sit in a class of fifty to
6 sixty students per classroom. Most of these students work at various establishments to sustain there education. Inequality between the rich and the poor divides the population. The poor cannot enjoy what the rich people are enjoying. The underprivileged cannot benefit from studying in well known universities. And, when they mingle with well- off students, they end up being unnoticed. According to Godofredo Roperos, “It seems the disparity in the social and economic condition between our rich and poor is glaring. The gap in the lives of our many poor and the very few rich is inequitably widening, instead of narrowing… efforts to bridge the gap between the affluent few and the needy are withering under the heat of the economic elite’s political pressure”. STEREOTYPES Stereotype is a way of representing and judging other people. Stereotypes can revolve around a certain characteristic of the group of persons to which they are assigned. The persons of that group may even be reduced to being known and understood through a lens based on the stereotype that results from this, rather than being viewed as individuals. Stereotypes may refuse to recognize a distinction between an individual and the group to which he or she belongs. Stereotypes may represent people entirely in terms of narrow assumptions about their biology, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or any other number of categories.7 A stereotype tends to judge a person by the way he looks not for who he is. Sociologist Charles E. Hurst of the College of Wooster states that, “One reason for stereotypes is the lack of personal, concrete familiarity that individuals have with persons in other racial or ethnic groups. Lack of familiarity encourages the lumping together of 7
7 unknown individuals”.8 Individuals have been different from one another. Persons have gravitated to groups of other persons like themselves. People create and develop categories of qualities by which to classify the groups, some b ased it on ancestry. Gender stereotyping also exists in schools. Mostly, the society has different expectations from males and females. The society usually imposes what is expected of men and women in the social structure. In the early years, the teachers instructed the male students to do manly tasks such as carpentry and gardening. While the female students were instructed to do cooking or home making activities. The men are perceived to be tough, combative and rulers of the home. The women are expected to be caregivers, nurturers and homemakers. "The usual stereotypical images are that boys are better at technical subjects and girls are better at languages. Boys are naughty, girls are quiet. Boys have better reasoning, while girls follow their emotions and intuition. There is no doubt we experience those qualities in real life but the question is whether they are natural or conditioned by upbringing…”.9
Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. 6. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc, 2007 http://www.radio.cz/en/article/90714
Meeting and interacting with people from other cultures is an exciting experience. The differences between cultures can be fascinating and can sometimes cause problems because of the particular cultural meaning of words, gestures, or actions. Oftentimes, people do not understand each other because of diversity in their beliefs, cultures and traditions.
With the help of a multicultural education, barriers in diversities can be lessened. It is defined to increase the educational equity for all students. The Multicultural Education approach promotes the transformation of the educational process to
reflect the ideals of democracy in a pluralistic society. It is a response to the changing demographics of the society. Culture is what we learn and create to make sense of the world. The discontinuity between the cultures of poor and ethnic minority students and the culture of schooling affects academic underachievement and failure (Nielson, 1991; Nieto, 1997). Moreover, caught in the ambivalence of success and failure in schools that transmit a culture of domination the learning of children of color and poor children is further hindered by the factors of invisibility, alienation, and resistance. In view of an increasingly multicultural society and student population, multicultural educators reflect the need to address the systemic, curricular, and pedagogical impediments to the learning of traditionally marginalized students. Multicultural educators also recognize that an increasingly multicultural nation and a shrinking and contentious planet at the edge of the twenty-first century demands a people who
are critical thinkers and able to deal with the complexities of multicultural differences.10 In our country, the government is challenged to encourage diverse and alternative learning systems to flourish by removing obstacles to the recognition of the indigenous groups. The state, while promoting multiculturalism, should also encourage inter- cultural exchange and dialogue among peoples and make education for peace as flagship mechanisms of its post- conflict humanitarian programs. Indeed, the government must take upon itself to continue to mobilize resources to basic education, and in the promotion and support of the minorities’ learning systems. Educators, through classroom materials, can portray these diverse groups realistically and from a variety of perspectives. For example, teachers can have students celebrate ethnic diversity through festivals. Studying each culture also helps students in understanding their differences with other people. With these, students are taught about commonalties of all people through understanding their social and cultural differences but not their differences in institutional and economic power. In a democratic, multicultural society like the Philippines, all children must be educated about the multiple strands of the past that have created the webs of the present. Whatever our ethnicity is, we all need to study and appreciate each culture similarities and differences, for we are all Filipinos. The school curriculum needs to reflect our full history, including the contributions and experiences of people of color and women. Thereby, all 10
The Scope of Multicultural Education.mht
students can see themselves in history and students of all races can develop a greater respect and appreciation for each other. To promote multicultural education, educators should be able to develop teaching and learning based on democratic values that foster cultural pluralism. They should be able to develop curriculum that is built on understanding ethnic groups. Furthermore, educators must be committed in achieving educational equity. A just and humane treatment to all students should be maintained to combat oppressive practices against the minority. Educators, activists, and others must take a more active role in reexamining all educational practices and how they affect the learning of all students. Teachers applying a transformative approach weave a range of cultural perspectives throughout the curriculum. For example, by reading different versions of the Cinderella fairy tale, students can compare the moral, ethical dilemmas, story structure and standards of beauty in the said story. This empowers the children to think critically about events and issues. It is necessary for teachers to model positive attitudes and interactions with all children -particularly those who might be alienated from the rest of the students. Then the need to create opportunities for students to interact peacefully among themselves is important through cooperative learning. Cooperative learning has been proven successful in reducing prejudice among students. Apparently the focus on a common goal helps override emphasis on individual differences. Positive interaction matters. Teaching strategies should encourage success for all
students, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, or gender. Knowledge of learning styles can help. Educators have the responsibility to engage in a continual and critical process to examine how prejudices and assumptions inform teaching and affect educational experiences of students. Teachers need to understand the people and its surroundings to be able to have a sense of his own perceptions in relation to life experiences. Thus, teachers will be effective in relating to the students the similarities and differences between races. Schools must be active participants in ending oppression of all types, first by ending oppression within their own walls, then by producing socially and critically active and aware students. As educators, we must recognize that children have preconceived notions about other children. These notions are based on their race, neighborhood, ethnicity, and gender. If we are truly committed to the philosophy of multicultural education, this is an area we must consistently address.11 Parents too, should be involved in making links within the community. They should embrace the community with warmth, understanding and curiosity. Everyone should have a nurturing support for others . Everyone should be contributing members of society both within their rich cultural boundaries and beyond them.
12 As Banks (1993) points out, "multicultural education is designed to help unify a deeply divided nation rather than to divide a highly cohesive one." Multicultural education may bring problems to the surface, giving the appearance of creating conflict. But if a school's entire staff and faculty are committed to working through that conflict, then unity based on new, more equitable relationships can be achieved.
Multicultural education encompasses all aspects of school life. The values of multicultural education must be modeled throughout the school environment. Multicultural education strives for equity regardless of race, gender, culture, or national origin. Students' lives are shaped by both school and society. So, in order to be successful, multicultural education encompasses both the effort to create more equitable schools and the involvement of teachers and students in the creation of a more equitable society. As educator, Bill Bigelow (1993) states, "[students] are given the opportunity to flex their utopian imaginations, and further, the opportunity to try to make their dreams real."
Essentially, multicultural education is about social change through education. It requires deep and critical thinking, imagination, and commitment to another tomorrow, inclusive of the wealth of all of our stories and peoples. It is another aspect of the continuous human journey toward justice and pushes us toward the fulfillment of the promises of democracy. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives citizens a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and
accepting of, diverse cultures.12 Thus the underlying goal of multicultural education is to affect social change.